E3 2013: Grading the Press Conferences – Microsoft

E3 is upon us, and our editors took a few minutes to look back on the major press conferences that happened right before the doors opened at the LA Convention center. First up is Microsoft and the Xbox One.

Microsoft’s press conference this year was unquestionably stronger than almost any entry from years past, however, it’s a victory by forfeit rather than conquest. Absorbing criticism that has dogged them since 2009 or so, Microsoft knew that the best way to come out strong was to focus on games as much as possible. And so they did, but at the cost of implanting a subtle disappointment in the minds of their audience nearly three weeks before E3.

See, the paradox that Microsoft placed itself in revolves around its vague and labyrinthine approach to content ownership. At the Xbone reveal show, they highlighted all of the usual faff and entertainment-hub stuff that everyone hates about E3, and then spent the time in between trade-shows arguing with themselves about what exactly their DRM and online policies were going to be. Once they revealed last week that Xbone needs to phone home at least once a day, and that game licensing costs are subject to the whims of publishers, Microsoft took a rather healthy running start and bellyflopped straight onto their own petard. There wasn’t a single exciting presentation from today’s show that didn’t come with a little voice in my head saying, “but yeah, this is all subject to Xbone’s eldritch walled garden; do you really want to be a part of that?” No matter how many awesome titles they showed off today- things like Project Spark, Forza 5, Sunset Overdrive, and Titanfall -no matter how lean and quick their presser was, and how many clear efforts they’ve made to make Xbone a gaming destination, they still made it impossible to look past the incredibly consumer-hostile ecosystem they’ve decided to build for it.

And so, while this was without a doubt the best Microsoft E3 press conference in years, I can’t say that it’s left me any more excited than I was before. If I end up buying an Xbone, it’ll be because publishers will have proved that they are dedicated to responsibly working within Microsoft’s parameters, not because of the Xbox itself.

By Adam Condra

Grade: B-

I got three huge takeaways from the press conference.  Number one -- $500?  Seriously?  For what is essentially a middle-of-the-road gaming PC, plus a motion controller that I have no interest in?  No thanks.  I’ll wait at least a few years until it’s $300 or less.. Number two –  Microsoft at least showed off enough interesting games to make me think that I might actually want to own an XBox One for $300.  That’s saying something, because going into today, I thought I would never consider buying one.  The games were ultimately a win, although lots of them are almost certainly timed exclusives, and not actual exclusives (but if you were expecting the exclusives to be a bunch of Kinect shovelware, then you were wrong).  Number three -- nice move by Microsoft to snatch up Insomniac.  That was a huge surprise.  How does Sony let themselves get snookered like that?  Out of all of the next-gen games that I have seen or heard of so far, Sunset Overdrive is the one that interests me the most.  It looks like Insomniac still aspires to do more than become a member of the Brown Shooter Club.  Overall, a good looking set of games, but not nearly good enough for me to buy a $500 console with a draconian DRM scheme.

By John K

Grade: B-

Games. They said they were going to bring it, and that’s what Microsoft did. Right from the beginning, they went game happy, showing off a load of XBONE exclusives. Some of them were impressive (Sunset Overdrive) and some of them not (I am a bit luke warm on Ryse, or as I like to call it, God of Rome). There was the bombast typical of a Microsoft calling the shots, and nary a Kinect-only game among the bunch. Capping things off with Respawn’s new Titanfall, before finally dropping the price ($499), Microsoft did everything they could to try and push past the marketing message-agedon from their previous conference. They still had a few hiccups, and they might have their hands full trying to convince some gamers to just “lie there and take it,” but they positioned themselves well, appearing pretty strong at the end of their show.

By Brian Tyler

Grade: B

Looking past all of the malarkey with the Xbox One’s DRM, Microsoft’s press conference for E3 2013 was rather impressive, perhaps the best they have had in years, at least on the games front.

Having a heaping helping of game announcements is good, but what made this press conference so great was the amount of gameplay footage shown. Project Spark, Killer Instinct 3, Forza 5, Ryse, Titanfall, Battlefield 4, all had extended gameplay showings, lasting for a generous 5 or so minutes each. The conference also flowed well, with Microsoft continuously announcing new developers to come out and discuss their games while showing us new features for the Xbox One such as the Twitch integration. This seemed to be accessible in the middle of gameplay, making the feature more worthwhile. The only awkward part was not placed upon MS, but rather technical difficulties that caused an extremely uncomfortable few minutes of umming and arring over Battlefield 4’s showing.

Honestly the Xbone’s conference was very impressive, even if you still have the nagging feeling of getting slighted with all the crazy stuff Microsoft seems to be doing to undermine consumer rights.

By Alexander Cattell

Grade B+

First things first, Microsoft did exactly what they said they were going to do at E3 this year, talk about games. So from that stand point I was happy to see Microsoft stay true to their word. There were some great games shown off. Whether it was the Battlefield 4 demo (when it started to work), Sunset Overdrive looked interesting, and Titanfall showed nicely. I thought Microsoft did an admirable job showing off a ton of core games that all looked good.

My problem with the press conference was that nothing excited me. The crowd was equally pretty subdued for the majority of the conference, and I think that illustrates my feelings as well. Stack that with the $499 price point and it was really tough to get pumped. It was a good conference, there were a lot of games, but nothing that made me say I needed to run out and get an Xbox One.

By Joel Szerlip

Grade C+

So that's our feelings on the Microsoft conference. Be sure to stay tuned for our grades on EA, Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo later this week.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.